Yorkshire’s International Relations Post-Brexit

The 4th of our “National Engagement” events, “Yorkshire’s International Relations Post-Brexit” took place in Leeds in association with the School of Politics and International Studies on Friday 23rd February.

The event was a panel discussion featuring representatives from politics, business, academia and civil society. Speakers included Professor Tom Ward, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education, Tom Cargill, BFPG Executive Director, Dr Victoria Honeyman, Lecturer in British Politics at the University of Leeds, Peter Jones, COO Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Henri Murison, Director, The Northern Powerhouse Partnership, and Molly Johnson, BFPG Student Ambassador and Student at the University of Leeds.

Discussion examined foreign policy through multiple lenses, including how UK foreign policy affects Leeds and Yorkshire as well as how Yorkshire and the North have a different set of foreign policy priorities as well all those areas where the UK and the region share goals and objectives. Some of the issues raised included the role of UK government in generating productivity compared with the role of Leeds. In particular the example of our bilateral relationship with China was explored and how Leeds is and can further promote economic ties. Brexit and its potential impacts for the region were inevitably also covered, particularly around the issue of a customs union. Aside from trade and prosperity issues, the connections between domestic policy and foreign policy were explored, highlighting some of the links including how grievances such as those behind the University strikes that were taking place on the day can also have an impact on the reputation of our universities internationally! Another of the major topics covered was how to balance an ethical foreign policy with some of the other objectives identified in the discussion. The example of selling arms to Saudi Arabia was debated, with the panel and audience providing perspectives on the moral issues, the procedure in approving arms sales to other nations, the impact the reduction of arms sales would have on local communities, and the possible alternatives.

The BFPG look forward to continuing the series of university events across the UK (in March we will be in Cardiff and Milton Keynes), to provide the platform for important discussions on the UK’s foreign policy choices and how they impact us all.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of the BFPG. The BFPG is an independent not for profit organisation that encourages constructive, informed and considered opinions without taking an institutional position on any issue.
Edward Elliott

Edward Elliott is a Senior Associate at the British Foreign Policy Group.